Thierry Henry names best centre-back in the Premier League last season

Thierry Henry, a legendary figure at Arsenal, has lauded William Saliba, dubbing him ‘the best centre-back in the Premier League’ for the previous season.

Saliba excelled in Mikel Arteta’s defense as Arsenal secured the runner-up spot in the Premier League for the second consecutive year, trailing Manchester City.

The team boasted the most formidable defense in the league, allowing only 29 goals throughout the season, and Saliba received acclaim for his solid partnership with Gabriel Magalhaes at the back.

His significant impact has led to widespread speculation about Saliba’s potential selection for the PFA Premier League Team of the Year.

Saliba’s journey has been remarkable, with three loan spells in Ligue 1 before becoming a staple in Arsenal’s lineup over the past two seasons.

Arsenal had always envisioned great things for Saliba, and Henry, one of the club’s all-time greats, has been thoroughly impressed by Saliba’s rapid ascent.

‘You go to any town in and around Paris and you will find players. It’s a state of mind, it’s a way of living,’ Henry told the Premier League’s official YouTube channel while discussing a selection of stars competing at Euro 2024.

‘When you’re in a one-vs-one with him, you’re like, “Okay, you’re not going anywhere, big man!”.

‘I think this year he was, for me, the best centre-back in the league.’

Henry likely wanted to include Saliba in his team for the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris.

Ultimately, Saliba was not selected for the squad, as he was deemed crucial for France’s Euro 2024 campaign.

Recent reports indicate that France coach Didier Deschamps intends to start with Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate as his centre-backs in Germany.

This decision follows Saliba’s standout performance in France’s last warm-up match, a goalless draw against Canada at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux.

Frank Leboeuf, a former France World Cup winner, has criticized Deschamps for not including Saliba, expressing confusion over the decision.

When asked to identify France’s weakest area ahead of the Euros, he told ESPN: ‘I would say defence right now. It used to be strong. But it’s like Didier Deschamps is wondering who is the best duo at centre-back.

‘He tried something else [for France’s recent defeat to Germany].

‘In the middle of the park I would say we have a list of fantastic players, how they are going to match together is going to be a question mark but the talent is there. When you see the names of the players in the middle of the park for France, it’s crazy.

‘Didier has to find the right four players to play as defenders. When he does so, we will be very strong.’

When it was suggested that Saliba was France’s strongest defender, Leboeuf said: ‘Yeah, I agree.

‘That’s a real question for me. I don’t understand why Saliba isn’t playing all the time.

‘He showed to the world that he is the best defender in the world right now, well, the best French defender right now playing for a big club.

‘I don’t know why he’s not playing there. He’s absolutely tremendous. He should deserve the chance to show it at that level.’

JB

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